By  on October 5, 2011

Large reductions by the U.S. military and Bank of America lifted the level of planned job cuts in September to their highest in more than two years.

According to the monthly job cut report of outplacement specialist Challenger, Gray & Christmas, U.S. employers last month said they would shed 115,730 jobs, more than three times the 37,151 reported in September 2010 and the highest level since the 132,590 terminations reported in April 2009. The September total pushed the year-to-date figure to 479,064, 16.5 percent above the 411,272 cuts announced during the first nine months of 2010.

The September results also marked the end of a third quarter in which there were a total of 233,258 reductions, more than twice the 113,595 posted during the comparable 2010 period and not far below the 240,233 registered during the 2009 quarter.

The disappointing September figure was dominated by the more than 54,000 cuts in public-sector positions, which included the elimination of 50,000 U.S. Army troops.

John Challenger, chief executive officer of the outplacement firm, said, “The military cutbacks are probably just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to federal spending cuts and layoffs.”

The excised military personnel will put a further strain on the job market, he noted, as they seek to begin their post-military careers, in many cases with a shortage of job-hunting skills. Unemployment among veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan stood at 16.6 percent in August versus 9.1 percent overall.

Job cuts among retailers totaled 1,616 last month and stood at 41,789 for the year to date, up from 31,246 for the first nine months of 2010.

However, retailers last month revealed plans to hire 70,912 workers. That accounted for the vast majority of the 76,551 in total planned hires reported, 71,600 of which are temporary, seasonal positions, according to CG&C. The firm said last month that holiday retail hiring would be “about the same or possibly lower” than the 627,600 registered last year.

Earlier this week, Kohl’s Corp. said it would take on 40,000 staff for the holiday season, while Macy’s Inc. last month lifted its holiday hiring target to 78,000 from 75,000 in 2010. Both stores’ reports came after CG&C closed the books on its September numbers.

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